WHITESTONE’S FAR NORTH

by Kevin Walsh

By SERGEY KADINSKY
Forgotten NY correspondent

In recent years, the coastlines of Manhattan and Brooklyn have been reclaimed by the public as ribbons of waterfront parkland take up shores that previously belonged to industry. As we reported previously in College Point and North Astoria, Queens’ East River Shoreline is not as accessible. Here, residential developers hold sway and instead of parks, gated communities separate the public from the water. In our continuing series on the borough’s northern coast, we now visit Whitestone, Beechhurst and Fort Totten.

Whitestone is the northernmost neighborhood in Queens, situated between Whitestone Bridge and Throgs Neck Bridge. Its shoreline is largely comprised of upper income tract mansions and high rise apartments. An important ferry landing prior to the construction of Whitestone Bridge, the community was served by the Long Island Railroad until 1932. Near the eponymous bridge, Francis Lewis Park occupies a portion of the former estate of American revolutionary Francis Lewis. The park has a small cove that has a beach, but swimming is prohibited. Considering that Queens’s north shore once had numerous beaches with resorts and amusement parks prior to the Second World War, are there any swimming sites still in operation on the East River?

 

Whitestone Boosters Civic Association

At a dead-end segment of the never-completed Powells Cove Boulevard to the east of 149th Place is a traffic loop monitored by Whitestone Boosters Civic Association. It is one of the two last private beaches remaining on the Queens shoreline of the East River. A third can be found in Little Neck Bay. In a neighborhood filled with private gated communities, cameras and security guards, the best day for me to check out these beaches is when there is a heavy downpour and no one’s watching. Known as Boosters Beach, it occurring a narrow sliver of sand behind a tall fence.

 

Cresthaven

 

A former country club, Cresthaven, Powell’s Cove Boulevard between 3rd and 6th Avenues, once occupied 22 acres of waterfront real estate. Following its closing in 1989, the property was subdivided for tract mansions accessed by private streets. A couple of these streets reach the water’s edge, but it does not appear that there is a beach in use at Cresthaven. From the bead-end at Cresthaven, one can see Whitestone Point Rock. This outcropping used to have a lighthouse that was operated by a keeper until around 1990. It has since been automated like all other lighthouses in the city. Between 1889 and 1908, Whitestone Point had a romantic-looking lighthouse tower with a bell. Today, a simple skeleton tower with a beacon performs the duty.

 

Beechhurst Property Owners Association

 

At the landing of 158th Street near Riverside Drive, a waterfront parcel as wide as the street belongs to Beechhurst Property Owners Association (BPOA) whose logo resembles a DOT-issue bridge directional sign. To the left of the beach entrance is a private segment of Riverside Drive, where one can find eight oversize tract mansions with their own docks and waterfront pools. Because Beechhurst shares the 11357 zip code with the more populated neighborhood of Whitestone, it is regarded by outsiders as part of Whitestone to the dismay of some residents.

 

Wildflower Estate

 

At the eastern end of Whitestone / Beechhurst, the shoreline curves south into Little Bay. This promontory is known on maps as Cryder’s Point. In the early 20th century, this location was part of Long Island’s Gold Coast, a stretch of waterfront mansions covering the northern shores of Queens and Nassau counties. In 1924, Queens’ Gold Coast was enhanced by the construction of Wildflower, briefly the home of Broadway impresario Oscar Hammerstein II, who named the mansion after one of his plays. In 1930, Hammerstein fell on hard times and sold the mansion. From the early 1980s until 1999, the landmarked mansion fell into decay, overshadowed by Throgs Neck Bridge. Since then, the property was developed with upscale townhouses and the 15-room mansion was divided into six condo units. Because the estate has a gate and 24-hour security, the best I could do here is poke my camera between the fence posts. Although Wildflower has a beach, it is not used for swimming.

 

Le Havre

 

The modernist apartment complex’s name seems like a nod to architect Le Corbusier, who promoted the Tower-In-The-Park concept in the postwar period. Only 19 percent of Le Havre’s land is occupied by buildings. The rest is a private park-like terrain. In French, its name translates as “The Harbor.” Completed in 1958, Le Havre comprises of 32 towers on 32 acres of waterfront land. Each apartment has a terrace and full-length windows.

Wildflower and Le Havre are both located at Powells Cove Boulevard and Totten Street.

 

Utopia Parkway

 

Running between Beechhurst and Jamaica Estates, this roadway begins as a one-lane dead-end on the shore of Little Bay. Behind the dead-end are the Wildflower townhouses. Across the bay from Utopia Parkway is Fort Totten and behind it is Great Neck. At this location (by some accounts) East River becomes known as Long Island Sound.

 

Fort Totten

The northeast extreme of Queens is an ear-shaped peninsula that was used as an army base between 1857 and 1995. Following the army’s decommissioning of this historic base, the peninsula is shared by the Fire Department, NYPD, Parks Department, Coast Guard and a small remnant portion retained by the U.S. Army Reserve. While some of the buildings on the former base are actively used as offices and training facilities, others are in a dilapidated state, ravaged by the moisture and winds of the bay. Some of the former army residences appear as if transported from a small town. As a former residential community, Fort Totten had its own post office, zip code, swimming pool, little league and street signs. On the map, military names include Sgt. Beers Avenue and Walter Reed Road.

 

The largest unused building at Fort Totten is the former hospital, which flanks the Parade Ground. Reminiscent of Liggett Hall on Governors Island, it nearly spans the width of the peninsula. Considering the city’s overcrowded public schools and neighborhood opposition to new schools in residential areas, I am surprised that the city hasn’t reused some of the vacant buildings as schools.

 

Also vacant is the Willett Farmhouse, hidden behind thick vegetation. It predates the fort and is a link to a period when the peninsula carried the name Willet’s Point. The chapel is leased to a Korean congregation while the Officers’ Club is used by Bayside Historical Society.

 

Most of Fort Totten’s coastline is rocky, unsuitable for a beach. Its swimming pool however, is open to the public during the summer.

FNY will soon have a more comprehensive look at Fort Totten.

 

Francis Lewis Park

 

This 9-acre park covers a remnant of the property that belonged to Francis Lewis. The Welsh-born merchant represented Queens in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and his name also appears on a local high school and the north-south boulevard that stretches from Whitestone to Rosedale. The city acquired this park in 1937. Its beach is useful for walking, launching canoes and fishing but signs inform visitors that swimming is prohibited.

 

Samos Lane

 

The northernmost avenue in Queens is Second Avenue, which is the first number in a grid sequence that extends to 165th Avenue in Howard Beach. In 2004, a private cul-de-sac was constructed between Second Avenue and the water’s edge, containing four extravagant Mediterranean palaces. As a private road, it has its own custom-made sign.

As Whitestone has a large Greek population, it is possible that the street’s name comes from the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea. According to the historian Strabo, its name is Phoenician for “rise by the shore.”

Across the street from Samos Lane, a fire hydrant is tastefully wrapped by paving stones. Second Avenue does not have sidewalks.

 

Little Bay Park

 

When one visits Little Bay Park, the curved coastline is reminiscent of Orchard Beach.

 

This is no accident as in the early postwar years, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses intended to construct Clearview Beach on this site. Across the East River, Ferry Point Park also has a curved shoreline that was designed for a beach. Neither ever went beyond planning stage.

6/4/15

 

 

73 comments

Jeffrey H. Wasserman June 7, 2015 - 5:15 am

An aunt and uncle of mine used to live in the Le Havre apartments. I recall a while on black sign in the the lobby of their apartment house with the initials LH on it. I used to think it meant LeFrak House until now. Their apartment had a great sweeping view of Long Island Sound and the Whitestone Bridge. The terrace was accessible from both the living room and master bedroom. The master bedroom and living room had wall-to-wall windows on the exterior wall. The fridge in the kitchen was mounted on the ceiling over the counter like an overhead kitchen cabinet! If this apartment ever went co-op or condo, it’d be worth a mint!

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Shari March 10, 2018 - 7:47 pm

They are co-ops and have been since the mid 80s . They sell for upwards of 300,000

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Fred Mayer June 8, 2015 - 9:56 am

I grew up in Whitestone (10-06 148th St.) and spent almost every non-school day in Francis Lewis Park. Many days were spent riding my bike to Utopia Lane to watch the bridge construction. If memory serves, Cresthaven CC had a pool that was open to the public (25 cents) during the day except when being used by the CYO Catholic Youth Org. day camp (I think around noon for 2 hours). Wonderful place to grow up in the 50’s & 60’s.

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Donna March 24, 2018 - 4:35 pm

yes there was a public pool there ,separate from the country club .Went there many times .nice pool.Little secret in congested Queens pools.

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Margaret DeCicco May 10, 2019 - 4:50 pm

Hi Fred: Are you related to College Point’s infamous Mayer’s Marina?

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Craig October 2, 2019 - 10:56 am

In 1969:I keep my boat in Mayer’s Marina.

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Lucille MacKenzie May 15, 2019 - 2:16 am

The pool you are thinking of was the Whitestone Pool, open to the public. Cresthaven had two private pools, one for adults with a diving board and one kiddie pool, separate but both did host the CYO day camp programs. Cresthaven also had on their grounds both the Whitestone Boat Club and Cresthaven Yacht Club which remnants may still be seen possibly today.

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Greg Valeti June 18, 2019 - 7:11 am

Thats right. It was run by Father Flemming. I worked there for Frank Tokar that ran the entire facility. The 2 pools were for Cresthaven and the CYO. I also worked on the 2 boats that the CYO used to give kids rides in the sound, They were housed at the boat club. The Whitestone pool was opened to the public. Donny, a family member of Father Flemming’s, pretty much ran the pool and lived in the house behind it. He had a huge English Mastiff dog which used to patrol at night. The dances at the club in Cresthaven were quite the events. Aww, the memories.

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Bob Weinstein June 9, 2015 - 3:49 pm

Does anyone remember a day camp on the water in Whitestone called Wide Wings?

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Fred Mayer June 10, 2015 - 5:25 pm

Sorry, spent many summer days in Whitestone and can only remember the CYO day camp. I delivered the LI Star Journal in Malba, not that it has any relevance to your post.

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peter October 13, 2015 - 11:59 am

Yes – It was on the shore in Queens, not far west of the Throgs Neck Bridge, on which construction was just being finished my first year there. I was a counselor there during the summers of 1960 and 1961. Did you have questions about the camp? Were you there?

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Howard Mellon April 19, 2017 - 11:09 pm

There were two camps. One was Wide Wings and was closer to the Throgs Neck bridge. I remember it had an old mansion house and a large, for a little kid, wooded area. Closer to the water, the pool had a pool house that overlooked the water and we used to take rowboats out into the river. That camp closed when the property was sold and the owner reopened closer to the Whitestone Bridge calling the camp Wings. Its clearly gone now from the google earth view, but it had a huge pool in a T shape. I did my red cross junior lifesaver course there. This is all from memory, but it had acreage and was fenced. Coming in from the entrance there was a building with a few offices and then girls lockers went to the left and boys to the right. To the left of the building was a ball field, but us older kids could hit softballs on the roof of the building. Behind the building was a small open area and then a large tent where kids got lunch or played when it rained. To the right of the building was the pool, and then open space. There was a kitchen between the pool and the building, which was attached to the main building. There was an old abandoned Divco type truck (think old milk truck) way out back used for storage and a few small kids buildings to play in. On weekends and evenings it was open as a swim club. I would love to find some old pictures of the place. As a teenager I worked there 2 summers for $100 a summer.

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Anne Marie January 8, 2018 - 12:08 pm

My grandparents took care of the Whitestone Point Lighthouse and after they passed away my parents took it over until 1952 when the switch was put on land. There were two pools in Whitestone – Cresthaven and the Whitestone pool and Haylocks Day Camp across from Whitestone pool. I grew up in Whitestone in 1931 and remained there until 2007 and am now in Florida.

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Paul McCullough February 1, 2018 - 12:39 am

Hi Anne Marie I’m thinking your family must know my mom’s family Eddie and Loretta Day were my grandparents, he was the mail man out of the Post Office on a 150th street and delivered to all of Beachurst. My mom was born in 1926 she just turn 91 and she also lives in Florida now. She had 2 older brothers Eddie and Gene and one younger brother Bobby.

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Margaret DeCicco May 10, 2019 - 4:53 pm

My mother always spoke of Mrs. Day. I’m a Zappavigna, my mother Madeline, Dad is Louie, who was a general contractor.

Linda October 26, 2019 - 5:25 pm

Hi Margaret Deciccio….I my name is Linda. I am now 68. I grew up on 14th ave next to Grace Church. A Mr Zappavigna a contractor lived on 154th St right at the end of 14th Ave. The Oleskiew families lived a few houses north on 154 st and on 14th Ave across from me. Live in Babylon now. Was looking up the old neighborhood. I used to walk to Whitestone pool & Ft Totten as a kid. Lots of woods now all houses.

Marsha March 12, 2018 - 12:33 am

I have some memories of my parents taking us when we were quite young to a park under the Whitestone Bridge for a picnic! If my memory serves me correct (and there is no guarantee these days!!!) there was a very large cement dug out area dug with lots of sprinklers! We used to go there in our bathing suits to cool off! Am I just imagining this or did it really exist?!?

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Nancy September 3, 2018 - 7:56 pm

There was a sunken concrete sprinkler area in the park. I think it had an iron fence around it. Also a similar sunken sand box. Also big wooden seesaws, metal swings, metal kiddie swings, high metal slides, and high, dangerous metal monkey bars. Good times!

Anonymous January 19, 2019 - 12:37 pm

I remember that as well. Had a black iron fence surrounding it. Loved it!

Ed Winters December 24, 2019 - 9:14 pm

You remembered it correctly. All of those playground items are now probably considered too dangerous but somehow you and I an tens of thousands of other kids survived it!

Ed Winters March 8, 2019 - 6:49 pm

I remember Wide Wings camp. I have a photo of my brother wearing a Wide Wings tee shirt.

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jerry June 12, 2015 - 7:41 am

Thanks for this. Growing up in Whitestone in the 60’s and 70’s, the waterfront (other than F. L. Park) was always a mystery to me, what with the large Tropicana plant, and then the private lanes and houses that you mention. Plus in days before easy access to aerial photos, it was even harder to imagine what went on at the waters edge. Real “terra incognita” as they say.

I do remember the public pool at Cresthaven CYO (Which may have also been known as “Whitestone Pool”?), which if I remember correctly may have been a salt water pool. (Ugh….where did that water come from then?)

Finally, F.L. Park used to offer one of my favorite quintessential NY experiences, which is hanging out in the cool space beneath a major bridge. We used to go right down on the rocks under the south anchorage and fish, smoke, hang-out, whatever. Alas, post 9/11 I believe there is a full time police presence and/or other means to prevent that. So few secret places to hang out at anymore….

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Jenet Levy May 15, 2017 - 3:11 pm

Where was the Tropicana plant? I remember going on a school trip there in elementary school.

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Anonymous June 22, 2017 - 11:32 am

Tropicana was located on 154th street, off the water for deliveries by boat. Has been gone a while.

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Donna March 24, 2018 - 4:43 pm

I still see tropicana trucks there and a new cvs taking over the waldbaums,plus waterfront restaurant ponte …something.

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Anonymous July 4, 2017 - 6:57 am

152nd Street and 10th Avenue

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Frank Waters March 14, 2018 - 6:56 pm

End of 154st. I worked there 1 summer while in college

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Patricia Gabriel August 6, 2018 - 1:13 am

Tropicana had property at the foot of 154th street in Beechhurst. There was a gate and the Tropicana trucks came and went from the lot. Waldbaums Shopping Center was built, giving us a supermarket and some small shops like Stage Variety Store and a pizza place, a bank, etc.

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Rich Haas January 9, 2019 - 10:03 am

THE WATER – I worked at both Cresthaven Country Club and the Whitestone Pool – so I know the salt water came right from the East River next door. It was chlorinated pretty well so no one every got sick. But still…..???

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Anonymous June 18, 2019 - 7:16 am

Rich, did you work for Frank ?

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Rich Haas December 18, 2019 - 11:13 am

The Frank was probably Frank Tokar who ran everything on the CYO property. Great mechanic – organizer – I worked on the African Queen and the African King at Whitestone and also on the ,Manhattan which ran out of Cresthaven – those were great days – counselors – bug juice – lunches – and hundreds of life jackets.

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Ed Winters December 24, 2019 - 9:08 pm

I remember swimming in Whitestone Pool. They assigned you a locker key for the day and it was on an elastic loop that went around your ankle so you would not lose it. On summer days they had bands playing at the pool. That’s we went to meet girls, mostly unsuccessfully though!

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zoso June 13, 2015 - 9:53 am

boosters beach was my childhood.on 4 of july we greased a watermelon and had to capture it in water.then we had local bands for us teens,all played sunshine of your love,summer was quick/whitestone pool was great,they had a slide down from locker rooms/and yes CYO did take over beecghurst country club also………………whitestone/freddys pizza and carvel/is storks bakery still there? thanks for the memories,i went to st.lukes school and p.s.79 for kindergarten……

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LP April 23, 2017 - 12:31 am

Check out my comment below!

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Donna July 18, 2018 - 1:58 pm

I also went to St. Luke’s School and was a Booster Beach member. Graduated from St. Luke’s in 1976.

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whitestone November 20, 2015 - 3:37 pm

storks is gone I wish I could still live there……

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Sandy May 20, 2018 - 1:03 pm

Me too! I miss the old Whitestone so much! I’m on the island now and it’s great but nothing beat Whitestone back in the day. How did it change so much ugh. Wish we can all make it what it was.

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John Prinzivalli February 27, 2017 - 6:22 pm

My Great grandfather Edward Cleary had a farm on 14th Avenue around 1900 in White Plains, any suggestions on how to find more information about the farm?

Thanks, John Prinzivalli, Hadley, MA

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John Prinzivalli February 27, 2017 - 6:23 pm

Please excuse the last post, that was Edward Cleary on 14th Street in Whitestone queens.

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LP April 23, 2017 - 12:28 am

Hey Zoso! I’ve parallel experiences to yours. I also went to PS 79 and then St Lukes through 4th grade, but then off to Holy Trinity & St. Agnes for the rest! I’ve fond memories of Freddie’s Pizzeria in “the Village,” with its hitching post and a slice that, at one time,cost the same as a subway ride, 20 cents. I remember Carvell and their raspberry sorbet and Storks with their jelly donuts. Many summer days at CYO (bug juice) @ Cresthaven Pool, where, during its country club time, Bernie taught me the crawl. At other times, we went to Whitestone Pool. Frances Lewis Park was neverland to me. I’d take my bike down the hill toward the water and sometimes fish under the bridge with my grandfather (Poppy). Otherwise, I’d cycle through Malba, College Point, Flushing and Fort Totten. There was Adventurers Inn, the Aero Slife, Golf City, a watching the planes at Flushing (Speeds) Aiport At low tide, I’d go to the Cement Pier in Malba and enter what I called the tunnel and what I now believe was a storm discharge outlet! There were long walks with the neighborhood kid to the glen near the Trogs Neck Bridge for live music during the summer. When we got a little older and had phony proof in hand, we went to the Mona Kai (near Bohacks & Tropacana) for a Flaming Volcano or to Rum Bottoms for some music. Funny, I found this site when I got curious about the fate of Cresthaven & Whitestone Pools ( I left the east coast for the west in early in the early 1980’s). I enjoyed walking down memory lane and am so thankful for my time on 11th and 13th Avenues.

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Kate Battaglia April 26, 2017 - 1:19 am

i grew up in whitestone on 12 th road off of 150th street. I remember Cherry valley dairy, Storks, Freddies pizza, Chris’s card shop. Entered window painting contests. I wish I could find some of these awards from the window painting constests to give to my son. I miss the old Whitestone. We were middle class. We lived in a house on 12 th rd/ Life was good. We had Freddies Pizza, Bertlesons and a really great life We went to Whitestone park and watched the river go by under the bridge.We watched the Throgs Nweck bridge go up and Bayside explode, Now whitestone is an elite community. Before it was middle class. Oh well. New York is becoming too gentrified. The average person cannot live there anymore because it is too expensive, Where does the middle class live now anyway.?

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Ed Winters July 14, 2017 - 12:45 pm

I attended Immanuel Lutheran School from 1959-1968. Part of the daily routine walking home from school was to either get an Italian Ice at Bertlesons (5 or 10 cent sizes) or a slice of Pizza at Freddies (15 cents per slice, 20 cents for a Sicilian slice). Sometimes I would have to get a haircut at Frenchy’s Barber Shop. It cost $1.25 in those days. On the very day JFK was assassinated, my brother and I walked home and stopped by Chris’s Card Shop to see if we placed in the recent window painting contest (we painted a picture on one of the windows at Bohack’s Market on 14th avenue). The paper posted on Chris’s window said we came in 7th place (out of eight top spots) for our age category. It was exciting! The prize was not a trophy though, we each were awarded an art set. Only 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place got trophies. I loved Whitestone in those days! My brother still lives there.

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RRP July 15, 2017 - 10:15 pm

I’m still here! Have been for 45 years. I wouldn’t call it an elite neighborhood, but I do call it home. We have become a small city with many diversified cultures. It is not the small town I grew up in anymore, but to me, it’s still a great place to raise my family.

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Sandy May 20, 2018 - 1:05 pm

Many went to Long Island, including me lol

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Kevin July 5, 2018 - 9:37 am

Karl Bertleson (who used to work in that ice cream store) was one of the partners of the Whitestone Delicatessen (Across the street from Stork’s Bakery and Cherry valley) The other two were Richard Jensen and Ludwig Richardson. It was a German themed deli then, I worked there a number of years while attending college. The regulars called me “Red”.

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Patricia Gabriel August 6, 2018 - 1:25 am

We too lived on 12th road between 154th and 157th. We loved going to Beechhurst Beach, swimming out to the big wooden raft, or from the wooden steps at the end, getting burgers and fries from the concession, dressing up for the Saturday night dance. We often talk if the best bakery ever: Stork’s, and their crumb cake, kruellers, cookies. It was the best bakery around. We enjoyed Freddie’s pizza too and the Clintonville Bar Restaurant for fried shrimp and spaghetti. I remember walking to Sams Penny Store on 14th Avenue with it’s glass cases of loose candy. Riding bikes all over Beechhurst, Whitestone, malba. So safe back then.

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Nancy September 3, 2018 - 8:05 pm

Was Bertleson’s the little ice cream parlor near Stork’s? I did not know the name of that ice cream parlor, as I did not go there often. (We went to Carvel all the time.) But I remember it well nonetheless. The front window had a changing display for the season or holiday, and would feature boxes of candy you could buy. There were wooden booths to sit in. I remember having a sundae at the counter and the ice cream and syrup dripping over the side of the metal tulip shaped dish. And once I got an ice cream cone there and they charged me 15 cents (probably in the late 60s or early 70s), which was a mind-blowingly low price. If only we could travel back in time…

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Lucille May 15, 2019 - 2:19 am

Yes, The Bertleson’s made their own chocolates and they were good! Booths and counter, still remember it clear as a bell after all this time. Stork’s bakery had the BEST ever hard rolls, could not wait till after mass on Sunday morning to pick them up!

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j May 15, 2017 - 5:14 am

Jerry,
There were 2 pools: the whitestone pool was the public pool at the end of the street. The cresthaven country club pool was only for the CYO kids and for the country club people after the camp. All are gone. Went to Boosters beach and sold my share/spot, what an idiot I am!!!! It’s sad what whitestone has become. I cry when I go back and don’t want to keep doing it to myself. Boosters beach is disgusting with all those overgrown mansions there. Same with the whitestone pool and cresthaven gone. The mansions are overcrowding what used to beautiful old farm houses and Tudors. This should have remained a historic town. Instead, money polluted/corrupted the business men there. Oh well.

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Michael G Curry May 15, 2017 - 3:13 pm

Beechurst had a beach i went to as a child next to tropicana etc.

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Diane Popeil August 2, 2017 - 2:24 pm

I am looking for information about the Day camp that was at PS 184 back in the 70’s. Does anyone know the name or have any info on it.?

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Rick Gardner December 21, 2018 - 1:50 pm

WOW. I too attended the PS 184 Day Camp (Summertime only – for two summers). Time frame = Summer 1953 & 1954 ~OR~ Summer 1954 & 1955. I walked from my apartment by the golf course, with my mother. Later she would pick me up. 1st year = We played there, then boarded buses to the CYO Cresthaven Pool, went swimming and had lunch overlooking the East River and the next door dock and marina. 2nd year = Again met and played at PS 184, then boarded buses to Francis Lewis Park (Whitestone Bridge), went wading under the sprinkler sprays in their concrete basins. Then went under the locust trees to dry off and eat lunch. I see PS 184 has been remodeled. Does not look like it did in 1950s, especially the windows facing the 21st Road.

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Maureen November 11, 2017 - 10:19 pm

Maureen Kopelman
I lived in bldg 16 apartment 2D. We moved there in 1958. When it went Condo, my mother bought it. After she died it was sold for a great deal of money.

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Ed Winters December 24, 2019 - 9:03 pm

I delivered the Long Island Star Journal to Building 16 at LeHarve from 1966-1968, perhaps you were one of my customers? I loved those days!

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Richard Nadler March 11, 2018 - 10:44 am

Did you know that Robert E. Lee was the chief engineer responsible for building Fort Totten? That there is a tunnel (which has caved in) under the bay connecting Fort Totten to Fort Schyler? That the old Sylvania or GE property had some type of radioactive incident around 1960?

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Rick Gardner December 21, 2018 - 2:37 pm

Hi. I lived there in Clearview, Bayside from 1953 till I joined the Army in 1973 and left my family there for the beautiful Tidewater Virginia …. never regretted leaving. To answer your questions: a) Yes, Lieutenant Robert Lee did supervise the construction of both Fort Totten and its companion Fort Schuyler. After graduating West Point, now an Engineering Officer, participating in the Mexican War, was his assignment but he was not the only one, just part of a group of Army engineers. As the first stones were being laid, he then was assigned to help design Fort Monroe, Hampton. So off to Virginia he went. Was there also to see the first stones being laid and then went home (that later became Arlington Cemetery). Fort Monroe was completed and then the Civil War broke out. As you know, 1861, he sided with Virginia and the South and quickly went to the Confederate Richmond, leaving Washington behind. So as the war progressed, to spite him, the US Army (the North) confiscated his plantation (wife was still home) and immediately began burying bodies on his front lawn. When the war ended, he came home, packed up his family, and moved south to become Washington College President. And his property became Arlington Cemetery.
b) There is no tunnel between Fort Totten and Schuyler, BUT there is a well-hidden tunnel that goes under the hill that protects the back fort from the front where the cannons were. Wagons would bring in the cannon shells and explosives and store them in the back of the hill, then place on carriages, pass down through the tunnel to load the cannons. There was a “Bayside Bell Rod & Gun Club” (c.1962-66+/-) that was able to use the Fort Totten indoor rifle & pistol range and where was the range? Buried in the “Old Fort” on the ground floor by the tunnel and the entrance road from the pier.
c) Sylvania Research Laboratory very possible had an incident c.1960. I lived there, across from Clearview Golf Course. Do you remember the place? The two unique, red-tile roof buildings besides the entrance? They were on the lawns and very close to the service road while the two large research laboratories were further back by the forest(s)? What else do you know about Sylvania besides the rumor?

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Nancy September 3, 2018 - 8:15 pm

I am interested in information about P.S. 79–primarily about how and why that magnificent building was torn down. Why were people thinking? What a loss.

Does anyone remember Principal John Campbell? I remember taking a note into his office when I was a little girl. He was quite intimidating. He smoked a pipe in there, and there was a carpet on the floor. He had a big first-floor office that faced the front yard. I don’t think that type of man even exists any longer.

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Howard Mellon December 6, 2018 - 1:41 am

The original PS 79 was a building as I recall built in 1898 with an addition around 1916 and at least one more addition. I finished 6th grade there in 1963, JHS 185 in 1966 and Flushing High School in 1969. Campbell was the prinicipal when I was there as well. The building had significant shortcomings. One thing was that if you brought your lunch you had to eat in the auditorium due to lack of space in the cafeteria. But do you remember the stairwells that were in there with the glass with the wires in them? One of them collapsed as I recall and Campbell got hurt as he was on the stairs when they broke. Geez… old old memories. The old one was just obsolete….. I would bet the wiring, etc. couldnt support modern electronics.

The building, as I recall was originally fronting 149 St with a large yard space behind it. They put the new one in the back.

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Nancy August 6, 2019 - 8:17 pm

Replying to Howard Mellon: Thanks for the info. I have a neighbor who attended P.S. 79 in the 40s and 50s, and Mr. Campbell was there then, too. I think she said he was the assistant principal. I would love to get some information on him. I wonder where he lived and where he studied.

I had never heard about the collapsing stairs. I do remember the stairwells. I have to believe the building could have been renovated instead of destroyed. There is a very old public school building in Flushing, just off Union Street, catty corner to Flushing HIgh School, that is still used today. My mother went there as a child.

Here is a link to some photos of P.S. 79 in the 30s. The wing and gym and auditorium were not built yet.

http://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/view/all/what/PS%2B79?sort=identifier%2Cschool%2Cdate%2Csubject

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Rich December 5, 2018 - 10:33 am

I attended the CYO Day Camp from 1952 – 1960 when I became a Counselor. Worked on the waterfront both at Whitestone and next door at Cresthaven for several summers with really tremendous kids from all the Catholic high schools in Queens. We gave boat rides on the Manhattan at Cresthaven and on the African Queen and African King from Whitestone. We put life jackets on all the campers and sailed under both the Whitestone and Throggs Neck Bridge. So beautiful there and such wonderful times – the best 12 summers of my life.
I became the Whitestone Boating Director as the CYO Day Camp reached a capacity of 5,000 campers a day – spread out between 6 properties – Whitestone, Alley Pond Park, Cresthaven, Kisena Park, Astoria Pool and Cunningham Park. The kids would spend half a day swimming and the other half in the park – with bug juice before the bus ride home.
Those were truly wonderful summers and gave us all life-long memories of happy, safe and exciting times.

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Rick Gardner December 21, 2018 - 2:55 pm

Dear Rich, a few years ago I stumbled into a Facebook page being posted by a fellow named Ritchie Ferraro. Like me and you, he had a childhood using the CYO aka Cresthaven Pool. So one sunny day he went to reminisce and walked along the Powell’s Cove Blvd and took photos of the pool and abandon mansions (becoming Cresthaven CYO Camp) across the street. Sure enough the pool was still there and he shot photos through the fence. Also took a photo of the street. Then later, through my research I found a postcard from the Astoria Historical Society the showed the pool and dock/marina next door. I used the pool for one summer (1954 or 1955). The next summer, we (CYO Day Camp) took the bus from PS 184 to Francis Lewis Park and used the wading pools (spray heads) there. Amazing the names changes = a) I remember the pool called CYO Pool but now know it as Cresthaven, and b) I remember the park/spray heads called Whitestone Park but now known as Francis Lewis Park. It can get confusing.

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Rich January 2, 2019 - 10:14 am

Yes the CYO property started small – the Brooklyn Diocese just took over the Cresthaven Country Club and its 2 pools, expanded by taking over the Whitestone Pool as the small day camp grew and grew and grew. We used the yellow NYC public school buses to pick up campers at their parish church and transport them to one of the main 4 properties – Whitestone, Cresthaven, (one block apart) Alley Pond Park or Kissena Park.
Our lunches were provided by the NYC Board of Ed. Bug juice and cookies before the ride home.
They were just happy care-free days with great kids and counselors.
We covered all of Queens, and went a little into Brooklyn by the Queens border, and into the Bronx just over the Throgs Neck Bridge. Speaking of the Bronx, once every 2 weeks we went to the very famous Bronx Zoo folr half a day.
No crime – sex – violence. It was a wonderful time. Maybe we had one or 2 beers once in a while. The drinking age was 18 ?!?!?
I’m now 72 but I still have many vivid memories of growing up at CYO way back then.

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Tim O’Toole April 10, 2019 - 9:17 pm

Was Ritchie Ferraro the younger brother of Dino Ferraro?

Tim O’Toole

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Michael Curry February 5, 2019 - 4:56 pm

154th to 162nd CIP to the Water is Beechurst, the area between 162nd utopia and Leharve is known as Robinswood

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Karen February 15, 2019 - 9:33 pm

Yep went ps79 those big front doors slammed really loud and mr Campbell with the smelly pipe,mr Harmon asst principle,those teachers randazzo,rathner,Welch, and best of all varsi s 75 cent hero’s and don’t forget frans candy store a penny a piece 25 cents lasted all day

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Doug S. February 17, 2019 - 7:28 pm

It was officially named The Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Corporation Metallurgical Laboratory. They primarily conducted testing on Uranium and Thorium. Before Bay Bridge Condominiums were built on the property in 1980, the DEP did testing on the property and determined there was no contamination. The Bank of North America bought the property and the testing was surface only. I remember riding my bike through the empty lot and seeing pools of colored purple, orange and green water in the mud. Draw your own conclusions. Also, nearby under the Throgs Neck Bridge was a horseshoe ring (still there) and Bands would play in the summertime. Silver Star and other local Bands would build a stage and run a power line from the lamp posts. Overhead was the Goodyear Blimp with animation lighting up the sky. The Clearview Golf course was our hang out. Whitestone in the 1960s was heaven. As close to small town America as you could get. Candy Stores on every corner. Block Parties. Good Humor Trucks. Mr. Softee. The green knife sharpening truck ringing its bell. Ring-A-Lario until midnight. Sleigh Riding down suicide hill and “skitching” down Utopia Pkwy. Parades up 150th St from Memorial Field into Whitestone by Gleasons Funeral Home. Riding our bikes in old Kent Cleaners off Clintonville and other lots before they were all gone. Playing DAC Baseball in Fort Totten then sneaking into the Fort and hiding when the MP’s in the Green Jeep would come through the tunnel. Lighting “Punks” from Little Neck Bay for fireworks on the 4th of July. Ice skating in Bowne Park. I attended PS 184. It had a great Playground with Monkey Bars and the Long Swing sets which are banned today. We used to walk from school to Scotty’s Pizza on Franny Lew and Willets Point. Still the best I’ve ever had. Milk Maid was there before Mcdonald’s opened. I remember there sign saying 100, 000 served, then finally a Million. Now Billions….should have bought stock when I first saw the sign!! The ’70s were like the wild west. Hot Rods up and down the Boulevard. People outside Carvel watching the races on lounge chairs. Hot Rod Magazine there taking pictures. The Mona Kai and the Shore Tavern were tough drinking Bars. Pizzarama was where Dime Bank is today. As close to Mels Drive Inn as you can get. Elephas’, Avanti and Camouflage (Monday’s) Night Clubs rocked Bayside. Jones Beach field 6 then Nathans in Oceanside. Anyone remember Carosons Hardware store on Francis Lewis off 26th ave? Archie would run into the basement and find anything you needed. How about the Topless Bar off the Cross Island Service road in Beechurst. How they managed to open that i’ll never know. If there was a center of the Universe….. Whitestone would be it!

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Ed Winters December 24, 2019 - 8:55 pm

Wow! I share all of your memories! I remember Kent Cleaners. There were a set of whistles every day telling workers it was time to be at work. The while at Kent’s blew at 7:45 a.m., 8:00 a.m. and again at quttin’ time at 4:00 p.m. I have been trying to find a photo of the Kent water tower for years but with no luck. I remember the Kent Trucks coming in every afternoon along 20th avenue with cleaning items from their entire network of dry cleaning shops. My next door neighbor, Rosalee Reilly, in Whitestone was the VP for Personnel at Kent’s Cleaners her husband Charlie worked in the Post Office. Rosalee’s mother, Myra O’Brien (maiden name Myra Surgeon) lived to be 101 and died in 1971. She remembered taking goods to market from her family farm in Whitestone to the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx via the old Ferry from Whitestone to Ferry Point in the Bronx. She had a vivid memory of the Blizzard of ’88 (that’s 1888) that buried NYC in its greatest snowfall of all times!

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Ben June 28, 2019 - 6:02 am

157-34 10th Ave. Yes 60’s/70’s Beechurst was a boy’s paradise. PS 193, Stage, Waldbaums, Adventure’s Inn, Tropicana, LeHarve, CYO, Cresthaven.., seemed like you could bike for a thousand miles and discover something wildly adventurous every single day. Crime did not even exist. House I grew up in is still there; Zillows in the millions now seems absurd I thought we were poor 🙂

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Nancy August 6, 2019 - 8:39 pm

“Fran’s” candy store! I had a vivid picture of the couple who ran the store but the name was not there. I remember Fran’s husband wearing a baggy cardigan and bedroom slippers in the store, cigarette hanging out of his mouth. And the old mother of the husband or Fran lived with them in that small space in the back of the store. Penny candy–licorice, Bazookas, sugar dots on a paper strip–in a little brown bag.

Mr. Harmon would perform in the auditorium occasionally. He played the saw and did ventriloquism with a dummy he would take out a suitcase.

Randazzo is ringing a bell. I did not have her, but… Did she have reddish hair? Or maybe that was Miss/Mrs Scarpetta, a name that just popped into my head. I didn’t have her, wither. But this mystery teacher was into Japanese culture, and I have a memory of her walking down the hall carrying a samurai sword. Maybe she was wearing a kimono! Had to have been around 1967.

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Ed Winters December 24, 2019 - 9:00 pm

I remember Fran as well! I remember her mom chasing me out of the store on day because she thought I had not paid for a pack of baseball cards! Fran came out and saved me from her mother’s wrath!

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Peter Orlaskey January 6, 2020 - 1:14 am

I’m pretty sure the Fran you are speaking of is my grandmother (unless there were two Frans who owned candy stores in Whitestone.) That description sounds exactly like my grandfather, Bill, and his mother, Bertha, who I never met but I know lived with them from family stories. They sold (or maybe just closed) the candy store and moved out to Long Island sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s, around the time Bertha passed away. My grandfather died from cancer in 1986 and Fran passed away in 2012 at age 90, still as feisty as ever until the very end. She spoke very fondly of the store and would run into former customers from time to time.

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Lenny McCusker August 24, 2019 - 5:47 pm

I too grew up in all theplaces mentioned…Boosters Beach member#96….season pass to Whitestone pool..went to PS 79….I’m 73 now and closing my eyes I’m there again…Carvel On 149st..Bertelsons…Storks before First mass at St. Luke’s..hard roll, best jelly donut Daily News funnies ..Dick Tracy on front and Dondi on the back…could go on and on as I’m sure you know what I’m talking about…very early 50’s and 60’s…joined Navy in 63 from Holy Cross HS…St Luke’s was my grammar school…graduated in 59’…that’s it for now but there a bunch more in memories…Lenny

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Ed Winters December 24, 2019 - 8:27 pm

I was a paper boy from 1966 to 1968. I delivered the Long Island Star Journal, which yielded to the Long Island Press in 1968. They called us “Star Boys” in those days and, yes, we were all boys. There were 50 paper routes in Whitestone and I had Route #42 which delivered to Beechurst. I had The Beechurst, which is an iconic building still in existence today. It had five sections A, B, C, D, and E. and I had about 30 customers there. I would park my bike outside of section A, go up stairs, across the roof, to section B, down to my bike, get more papers and then up section C, across the roof again and down section D. Of course I had to go up and down the three floors of Section E because there was no section F! Then I had three private houses on Powels Cove Blvd. where I could practice my skills at actually throwing the papers to the stoops of the homes. Then it was on to four buildings in LeHarve, where I took the elevators up nine floors and slid the papers along the floor to the subscribers on each floor … easy peasy! The old Beechurst Building had interesting tiles on the floor. Some of them had the image of swasticas! The building was built in 1914 before Hitler had appropriated the swastica as his symbol. Surprisingly, I visited the Beechurst in 2017, 50 years after I delivered there, and the swastica tiles were still there! After I completed my route and before I went home each day, I stopped at Carpenter’s market on Clintonville Street and bought potato chips and a soda. Sometimes I bought Hostess Snowballs. Very decadent but it was MY MONEY! I remember at age 12 that I had to deliver those papers every day rain, snow, or shine and sickness or health! If I missed a day, Mr. Weber the route director would have fired me! There was NO ROOM FOR ERROR! That job taught me how to work and how to deliver and be reliable! There were NO EXCUSES! I remember having to wait on line each day for my papers and fighting through a “Lord of the Flies” type of environment to get my papers! Then 49 other kids and I had to fold our papers outside of the station office on Cross Island Parkway and 149th Street. It was a scene man! I had to deliver the Sunday paper at 6 a.m. each week and one day we had a blizzard! No excuses! I had to get my papers, hop the Q-15 at 15th and 150th Street and deliver my papers! Then, at 8 a.m. I had to light the candles at Immanuel Lutheran Church as an acolyte. Great memories!

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